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Board Governance

"Is Your Association Ready for a Radical Change?"
By Vicki Scott, Director of Client Services

If you haven't read "The Race for Relevance" yet, you'll want to add it to your reading list. A group of Fernley & Fernley account executives were fortunate enough to hear one of the authors, Harrison Coerver, make a keynote speech at the Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives mid-year conference earlier in the summer. Conference attendees received a copy of the book, which they eagerly read and then shared with their colleagues. In true Fernley & Fernley fashion, a "Lunch & Learn" session was convened where our associates shared their thoughts on the 5-Radical Changes proposed in the book. This was a lively discussion indeed! Working in an association management company (AMC) environment, representing over twenty clients, added a unique perspective to the conversation.

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"Be a Strong, Visionary Leader in Tough Economic Times"
By G.A. Taylor Fernley, President & CEO

What should leaders do to combat the relentless stream of unsettling economic news? I suggest that they use the lessons learned from this challenging period to refocus and position their organizations for more prosperous times ahead. It's easy to get caught up in the water cooler talk of doom-n-gloom, but most of us have weathered tough economic times before and we know deep down that we'll come through this one too, eventually. In the meantime, remember that leadership sets the tone, like it or not. Be realistic, yet optimistic in your conversations, your actions, and most importantly your interactions with colleagues, associates, and association members. They look to you for advice during difficult times so give it to them in an open and honest manner. Included in this article are five "best in class" ideas to guide you.

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Boards of Directors - Perspectives on Governance and Leadership Recruitment
By Francine Butler, PhD CAE CMP, Executive Vice President, AMC Institute

A Board of Directors is a group of people who voluntarily accept fiduciary responsibility for an organization. We're speaking of non-profit Boards specifically in this case. But where do you find these dedicated trustees of the association, its funds, intellectual property, and membership data? A great place to start looking for new leaders is within the ranks of your current Board. They have their pulse on the association as well as the industry or profession it represents and more than likely know someone who could make a positive contribution. Don't forget that before you start recruiting for new volunteer leaders be sure to have a clearly defined job description detailing the expectations for the position and of course of time commitment required.

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Leadership Development and Education
By Kenneth R. Hutton, Executive Director

Leadership development is a process that starts as soon as an individual or company joins an association or professional society. The key to having strong leadership is educating volunteers as to their specific roles and responsibilities in a particular position. It is equally important for leaders to understand the history, governance structure, legal liabilities, and policies and procedures of the organization. After all they are helping to run a business entity. Education doesn't end once a member is elected or appointed to a leadership role, whether it be on a task force, committee, or the Board of Directors. This is an on-going process that should be included routinely on meeting agendas to ensure that a once and done approach isn't followed. The investment in training time will be well worth it.

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Making the Most of Your Time on the Board
By Taylor Fernley, President & CEO and Trudie Bruner Rowello, COO

Youíre invited to join us for a very special event on Thursday, May 13, 2010 from 8am Ė 10:30am. Fernley & Fernley and the Philadelphia Business Journal are co-hosting a seminar that will include a little networking time also. The experts in Association Management at Fernley & Fernley will provide practical advice on a myriad of topics for the new or seasoned volunteer leader. Lyn Kremer, Publisher of the Philadelphia Business Journal will show you how to grow your business in only 45 minutes a week.

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9 Myths About Most Boards
Summarized By Vicki Scott, Director of Client Services

It's important to realize that the composition of your current board is an important recruiting tool for potential new members. Remember what your mother used to say about being judged by the company you keep. †A great board member who doesn't feel a passionate connection to the cause cannot compete with one who does, no matter how influential he/she may be in a particular industry. And, remember that a happy board is a successful board. Don't frown on having fun as it can promote team-building among board members resulting in stronger relationships. In her book, "The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Want", consultant and author June Bradham outlines the 9 myths that can make or break an effective board.

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Leaders... Lead
By G.A. Taylor Fernley

Is anyone else tired of reading those articles or listening to those nightly newscasts featuring such headlines as "Creating Your Downsizing Plan" or "Preparing for Disaster" or, better yet, "The D (Depression) Word... Is it just around the corner?" Well, I am.

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Designing (or redesigning) Your Future as Non-profit Leaders
By G.A. Taylor Fernley

Even I, the eternal optimist, am being challenged on several fronts to remain optimistic today factoring in the economic uncertainty in world and national markets, the unsettledness of what the new administration will bring, and the impact these (and other) issues have going forward for those of us in the association and non-profit world. They never said it was going to be easy, right?

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Human Side of Leadership
By Steve McClatchy, President, Alleer Training & Consulting

When you hear the word "leadership" what comes to mind? If you are like most people you think of a title or position, or of sports heroes or world leaders. Leadership may be more recognized and noticeable with these people but itís needed on a much more abundant scale. Letís face it leadership is not something many of us put on our "to do" lists every day. Itís not even something that many of us would have an easy time trying to define.

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Top 10 Legal Trends for Non-Profit Leaders
By Taylor Fernley, President & CEO

Sitting on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization in today's volatile business climate can be a risky venture. Before you say yes to your local business alliance, professional society, or international trade association, be sure you completely understand your individual responsibility and your potential liability. Protect yourself and the organization by becoming educated on financial and legal matters, do your homework. Being a volunteer leader can be a rewarding, positive experience if you go into it with your eyes open.

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Nothing to Hide - The Truth About Transparency
By Kent Van Amburg, Executive Director


How much do your members really know about the inner workings of your association? Do they know your annual budget and the level of your reserves, the names and contact information of your leadership or how the governance structure operates? Can they easily access the minutes of your last Board of Directors Meeting or the current version of your Strategic Plan? Do your members understand how to influence the decisions that are made and what programs and services are available to them? Most importantly - do you want them to know the above? Do you want an organization in which nothing is hidden or secret and the level of trust and ownership is high? This should be every organization’s goal.

In most associations there is a large gap between the information available to the leadership and information provided to the rank and file members. Board members and committee chairs are provided the majority of their information in briefing books for meetings and monthly management reports from the staff. Unfortunately, the average member is left in the dark about developments beyond what they learn during the abbreviated report by the President or CEO at the Annual Convention. As a result, many members feel disconnected from their own associations and have a lack of trust in the decisions being made on their behalf by the elected officers.

The following article written by Paul D. Meyer , CAE, principal partner with Tecker Consultants, LLC, talks about the strong link between transparency and trust and the actions that are needed to create the culture of trust that is required in today’s associations.

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"Non-Profits are Urged to Prepare for Sarbanes Oxley Legislation"
By Suzanne C. Pine, Executive Vice President

In the wake of public debacles caused by improprieties at Enron and Tyco International in the late 1990's, the U.S. Government passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in an effort to put the public's mind at ease. Non-profit organizations can benefit from the requirements of this Act as well.

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